Alumni Spotlight is where you get to meet our wonderful Astra S.T.E.A.M. Alumni. In the past three years, we were lucky to have influenced over 60 young girls who are aspired to become young entrepreneurs in the STEAM fields. Each year, these young girls would work in teams to come up with New Venture App ideas during a two-day Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit. At the end of the Summit, they would present their ideas in front of a panel of judges.
Through this experience, we want to encourage young girls to develop their interests in STEAM subjects as well as entrepreneurship, and to empower them to become the next generation of female scientists and women entrepreneurs.
In today’s Alumni Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to our 2016 STEAMer – Lucy Huang!
Tell us a little more about yourself!
My name is Lucy Huang. I am an incoming junior at Monta Vista High school. I love circuit debate because it allows me to challenge dominant modes of thinking and improve my critical thinking. I also enjoy DECA, the business club at my school, because it helps me practice my interpersonal skills and learn the technical knowledge of business. In my free time, I enjoy reading about philosophy and pondering existential questions.
How did you hear about the Summit and what did you expect before you attended the Summit?
I attended the Astra S.T.E.A.M. summit at San Francisco on July 7-8. I heard about STEAM from my friend Shreya Parjan. Before the summit, I expected a combination of workshops and lectures, as well as a team project. I did not expect (and was pleasantly surprised) at the various networking opportunities.
What was your team’s App idea?
My team’s app idea was called Eventurous, a travel app that helped find nearby events at new cities. These events would include festivals, stand up comedy, live music, flea market, etc. The app would filter events based on location, price range, entertainment, time, etc. Once users have found a suitable event to attend, the app would provide details about the event including: description, reviews, dress code, age-range, etc. Users will then have the option to purchase the tickets in-app, allowing us to make revenue from commission.
What was your best memory from the Astra STEAM Summit?
Presenting our business idea- it took so much work to create and prepare, but it finally paid off when we were able to pitch it in front of successful entrepreneurs who are able to challenge the idea from a practical and logistical standpoint.
What was your biggest take away from the Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit?
My biggest takeaway was the connections with the people I met and the sense of community. I’ve never been welcomed to any organization that made me feel so at home from the moment I joined. Even though the connections I made only took 2 days to forge and I may not see the same people in person for years, I know I can always count on them to help me with my personal and professional life.
What did you learn from the Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit that later affected/changed you?
I learned the diversity of possibilities in the business world. I remember listening to people specialized in such different fields that I’ve either never heard of or never considered as a genuine possibility (screenwriting, manufacturing, game-developing). Most importantly, I realized that the path to such careers are rarely transparent from the beginning (screenwriting started off as attending a convention on a whim), and that every field requires the same basic skills (network, business, collaboration) that are portable to any career.
How does your dream career look like? And how are you achieving your goal?
My dream career incorporates the perfect balance between passion, and money. I want to be able to live within my means, and also live comfortably without the threat of financial insecurity or insurmountable debt. My passion is debate, argumentation, and research, so I would love a career in law (perhaps business law) that incorporates my passions and skills. Although lawyers work for other people, I would also like the opportunity to pursue other business endeavors and be my own boss on the side. If I have a business idea or investment idea, I want to know enough technical business knowledge to implement my idea. To work towards my goal of becoming a lawyer, I participate in my school’s debate team, often traveling independently to go to debate tournaments. To broaden my knowledge in the business world, I not only take classes at school (principles of business, principles of marketing, money and banking), I also participate in DECA competitions such as Business Administration and Management, winning first in Silicon Valley my freshman year.
What’s the biggest obstacle when achieving your goal?
My biggest obstacle to achieving my goal is my independence. Although my independence forces me to have a great work ethic, it also prevents me from reaching out to people. This denies me opportunities to collaborate, discover new business ideas, and utilize my connections to the best of my ability. Although it is hard, I am making an effort to converse with new people and stay connected.
When did you first realize your passion for business and entrepreneurship?
I first realized my passion for business when I attended my school’s business boot camp the summer of freshman year. Although I had little technical knowledge at the time, it introduced me to the fundamental elements of a successful idea (problem, solution, demand, practicality) and how to pitch the idea to potential investors (first impressions, go to market strategy, etc).
What’s your aspiration?
My aspiration in high school is to do well competitively at debate tournaments. Although this is neither grand nor awe-inspiring, debate provides a platform for me to practice all the things I love most. To begin with, I get to investigate deep philosophical questions and understand the critical literature behind contemporary politics (ex. Identity politics), as well as their application to the topic area, which changes every 2 months. I am also encouraged to defend my ideas from criticism and see how they interact with other arguments. Finally, in order to do well, I must also present my ideas professionally with clarity, precision, word economy, and persuasion. After the end of each round, I receive feedback on all these aspects, as well as strategic advice and commentary, which I can use to improve my performance. My current aspiration serves as a stepping stone to my journey in life to understand the world and learn how to navigate it through logic and persuasion.
Who’s your role model?
My role model in my life is my dad. He was born in a small village in China with very few opportunities for upwards mobility. In order to excel at school, he had to sacrifice his childhood, go away to boarding school, and dedicate all his effort into getting good grades without any certainty for the future. He came to America on borrowed money he had promised to pay back, unfamiliar with the English language, and with no relatives in the country. Through hard work and determination, he was able to improve his life drastically, to the point where he lives comfortably in the Silicon Valley and is able to send money back to his family to support them.
If you have one advice for the new STEAMers, what would it be?
You only have two days. Don’t waste it getting comfortable or settling in, jump straight to the networking, collaboration, asking questions, reaching out for advice and guidance, etc.
Lucy and her team presenting at the 2016 Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit